Why did I build the pocket watch key? I
dunno. But here's the short story: I had
an old watch case and thought it would
be kind of neat to have a telegraph
key to carry around and show it off at
various radio club functions ... maybe
even put it on-the-air! Note that this
photo, taken by Joe Veras, N4QB of
CQ magazine, shows the key before it
was completed. (This picture is from
CQ magazine's 2003 calendar, month
of May) It now has 2 tiny finger nuts on
the bottom edge of the case for
connection to the transmitter. The key
is all brass, has a bone knob, and is 1
1/4 inches overall length. And the
answer is, "Yes, I did put it on-the-air."
I remember the QSO well as I chased
the little thing around the operating
desk while trying to send at a
rip-roaring speed of about 15 WPM ...
lots-o-fun, but not very relaxing.
The little cutie to the right is an
accurate minature of the original
Bunnell key from the 1870s. I built this
about the same time as the pocket
watch key. This pattern was copied, or
used by, Western Electric, Signal
Electric, Western Union, Manhattan
Electric, and was the basis for the
famous Signal Corps' J-38 design. It's
about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the original.
Before you ask- "Yes it has been
on-the-air." I forget the QSO details,
but it was no more comfortable than
the pocket watch experience - but, fun,
just the same.